It’s unconscionable that many of the essential workers risking exposure to the coronavirus—the people providing us with essential food, healthcare and other services—don’t have health insurance.
For farmworkers, the uninsurance rate is two-thirds.
For dairy farmers, it is two-fifths.
For nursing assistants and home care aides, it’s one-fifth.
Lack of health insurance is one of the many social determinants of health that are shaped by “the distribution of money, power and resources” in ways that result in “unfair and avoidable differences in health status”—including the fact that the coronavirus is twice as deadly for African-Americans and Hispanics as it is for other populations.
As Kristin Lawless writes in “How Industrial Food Makes Us More Vulnerable to COVID-19,” access to healthcare and—and healthy food—are factors in who gets the coronavirus, and who survives:
“New data show that Black people are dying at higher rates from COVID-19 than other groups. Certainly lack of healthcare and poor quality of care shape outcomes, and it is well documented that poverty rates among people of color are significantly higher than in white populations. Perhaps less obvious is the influence of Big Food’s targeted advertising to people of color in neighborhoods with little access to fresh, whole foods. This means many people of color often rely on fast food and cheap packaged foods for meals that provide more caloric bang for the buck. Nationwide, Black people have much higher rates of diet-related diseases—Black adults are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than white adults.”
This is unfair. It’s also avoidable.
We need Medicare for All. But we also need a holistic healthcare system, one that ensures both health equity and health freedom.
Health begins with clean air and water, a toxin-free environment, nutritious food and safe places to live, learn, work and age.
Good health requires having the freedom and resources to access preventive, natural and alternative healthcare in addition to allopathic medicine’s pharmaceuticals and surgeries.
A good healthcare system must include the freedom and resources to make healthcare choices, from whether to have an abortion to whether to get a vaccination.
And it must be accessible to everyone, equally.